Can Co-running an Animal Sanctuary Provided Therapy for Mental Illness?

Since Harry Wicks started helping his dad co-run CW wildlife rescue, in Hertfordshire he has said that it has provided the perfect type of therapy.

Chris Wicks, Harry's dad started the non-profit rescue organisation three years ago. Having started in their garden shed they have since moved to a much more spacious rented barn at Stockers Farm.

Mr Wicks explains that Harry had been bullied from a young age and has struggled with his mental health since then, and has been formally been diagnosed with bi-polar and schizophrenia, Harry also has Klinefelter syndrome which is a genetic disorder that can cause learning difficulties.

Harry has described his life before he started co-running the animal sanctuary as "living in a black tube with no light in it and someone was putting a lid on the top"

Since working with the animals his view on life has changed drastically changed, he has said:

"I wake up every morning with a smile on my face"

The Father and Son team are currently looking after about 30 different species, including hedgehogs, owls and swans, and when ever Harry is feeling down the animals always help to cheer him up, describing CW wildlife rescue as "a magical place; it's heaven for me" Working with the animals has given Harry more confidence and has helped him prove the bullies wrong. "The bullies at school said I would never get a job; I would never be happy, I would never have a family,

"I have a job; I have a fiancée. I am so happy"

"Being with the animals has been our own therapy. Animals need you, so it's the perfect diversion." 

Here at Hillview we work with a local community farm who bring in a range of animals for our young people to engage with, and we find that it can be the perfect diversion for some of our young people, so we can understand how beneficial it must be for Harry to spend all day working with and rescuing wildlife. It is great to see a young person find something that they love to do that also benefits his mental health. 

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